OFA provides comments to Honourable Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding proposed changes to certain land division provisions in the Planning Act. OFA expresses gratitude and support for the decision to end automatic mergers of properties under the Land Registry System as this is a huge relief to many Ontario farm family members. Regarding our submission, OFA would like to reiterate the request to communicate a clear and easy process for unmerging these types of automatic mergers be communicated to the local planning authorities and land division committees. OFA does not support scattered or strip development within prime agricultural areas, because this form of development limits the ability of new and existing agricultural operations and fails to contribute financially to municipalities.
OFA continues to support compliance with official plan and zoning in areas with robust local planning processes in place. Developing and distributing technical supports, including plain language interpretation of the new amendments, which kinds of severances will and will not be allowed and any practices that have changed since the previous version, to all stakeholders will help to address confusion at the local planning level. To maintain the economic and employment contribution of the agri-food sector into the future, a holistic, systematic, province-wide approach that prioritizes protecting the best agricultural lands and identifies the most appropriate areas for growth, with justifiable criteria and a comprehensive analysis must be adopted. OFA believes Ontario’s land use planning policies must be clearly communicated to decision makers so that farmland can be reserved for farming while population and employment growth can continue to be allocated to urban settlement areas throughout Ontario.